Sexual Harassment Awareness

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1 Sexual Harassment Awareness Orientation: This week s on-line assignment is about sexual harassment in the school and the workplace. We are discussing this subject because sexual harassment is an illegal form of discrimination under America s Civil Rights Act. It is also prohibited by the laws of Washington. Puget Sound Skills Center has a policy prohibiting sexual harassment in this school not only because it are illegal, but because it creates unproductive, unpleasant, and sometimes a hostile working environment. We do not want this for our school or students. What exactly is sexual harassment, why is it harmful, and what can you do about it? Step 1: Complete the training on sexual harassment awareness from pages 2 through 7. Write any questions you have and have them available to discuss in class. Do you understand what sexual harassment is? Do you understand why we re discussing sexual harassment? Do you understand who may be affected by sexual harassment in the workplace? Step 2: Complete the Sexual Harassment Prevention Quiz after you complete the training in Step 1. Once you have completed the assessment, print it, continue to the last step. Step 3: Answer each of the following questions in paragraph format and either print the document or give the file to your instructor. Sexual Harassment: Why is it important to understand the different ways sexual harassment can occur? Using the EEOC definition of sexual harassment, explain what each of the three components means? How does sexual harassment violate the law and where are the laws defined? Describe the two main forms of sexual harassment economic and hostile work environment? How do you report sexual harassment at PSSC? Completion: Step 1: Step 2: Read the Sexual Harassment Awareness information and prepare any questions you may have. Be prepared to discuss them in class the week following the assignment. Be prepared to answer the following questions as part of the classroom discussion: Do you understand what sexual harassment is? Do you understand why we re discussing sexual harassment? Do you understand who may be affected by sexual harassment in the workplace? Submit your assessment on Sexual Harassment Awareness. Step 3: Submit your responses to the five (5) questions listed in Step 3. Once you have completed all three (3) steps successfully and you have earned at least 80% on the assessment, you will qualify for the Sexual Harassment Awareness Training Certificate which your instructor will print for your portfolio. 1 of 7

2 SEXUAL HARASSMENT AWARENESS What Employees Need to Know Today we re going to talk about sexual harassment in the school and workplace. We re discussing this subject with you because sexual harassment is an illegal form of sexual discrimination under America s Civil Rights Act. It is also prohibited by the laws of Washington. Furthermore, we have a policy prohibiting sexual harassment in this school because not only is it illegal, but it also creates an unproductive, unpleasant, and sometimes even hostile working environment. And that s not what we want for our school or students. Today we ll discuss exactly what sexual harassment is, why it s harmful, and what you can do about it. Objectives The objective of this training is to inform you about sexual harassment. We hope that awareness will help lead to prevention. At the end of this session you will be able to: Recognize sexual harassment Differentiate between the two main kinds of harassment Understand and follow company policy Report incidents and cooperate in investigations Help promote and maintain comfortable and productive school and work environments Why You Need to Know We are taking this training because we want you to be able to work in an environment that is free of sexual harassment. We also believe that when you understand what sexual harassment is and why it is harmful, you and your fellow students and co-workers can help prevent it from happening in our school and your workplaces. You need to know about sexual harassment because: Everyone has the right to fair treatment at school and work Sexual harassment harms everyone It undermines the trust and respect necessary for a productive school and work environment Males and females on every level and of any age may be harassers or victims Harassment and the Law Let s begin our examination of sexual harassment by considering what the law requires. 2 of 7

3 Title VII of the Civil Rights Act generally prohibits employers with 15 or more employees from discrimination in employment based on race, color, national origin, religion, or sex. The courts have interpreted sexual harassment as a form of sex discrimination that is prohibited by Title VII. State civil rights and fair employment laws prohibit sexual harassment in the workplace. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued a comprehensive definition of sexual harassment. EEOC defines sexual harassment as sexual conduct that is: Unwelcome Sexual advances Requests for sexual favors Verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature Displays of sexually explicit or suggestive materials Harmful Both the physical and emotional health of victims and witnesses are harmed, thereby negatively affecting the workplace atmosphere in general. Illegal The bottom line is that all forms of sexual harassment are illegal. Is this Sexual Harassment? A little later in the training, we ll get into a more specific definition of sexual harassment. But first let s take a moment now to play judge and decide whether these actions are harassment. A female employee wears miniskirts to work. Is she asking for sexual harassment? No. You must abide by the company dress code; if miniskirts are allowed, you have the right to wear them without fear of being harassed. A female supervisor makes frequent comments about a male employee s physique Is this sexual harassment? Yes. Male employees can be the victims of sexual harassment and have the same protections under harassment laws. A male supervisor makes frequent comments about a male employee s physique Harassment? Yes. Sexual harassment can happen between people of the same gender. The key is not sexual orientation that is, that the act is motivated by homosexuality but that the act is sexual in nature. Two co-workers forward each other off-color jokes they receive in s Is this sexual harassment? No. This exchange is not unwelcome. If one co-worker complains of sexual harassment because of receiving offensive jokes, the claim probably won t stand, because the co-worker has participated by also sending off-color jokes and not indicating that they were offensive. If the employee s situation changes and he or she decides to no longer go along with the exchange, he or she needs to communicate that to the co-worker and the co-worker needs to stop sending the jokes. 3 of 7

4 An employee asks a co-worker out Harassment? No. Asking a co-worker out is not considered sexual harassment. It s important to take no for an answer, however. Repeated overtures can turn into harassment. Two co-workers develop a personal relationship Is this sexual harassment? No. People can and do form relationships with co-workers. As long as the relationship is consensual, it is not considered sexual harassment. Remember that only unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature is unlawful. An employee posts a swimsuit calendar in his work area Is this sexual harassment? Yes. Under the EEOC definition, posting a swimsuit calendar qualifies as a visual display of explicit or suggestive materials. An employee posts a male pinup in her work area Sexual harassment? Yes. It doesn t matter if the visual display is of a woman or a man. A good customer makes provocative comments to employees Is this sexual harassment? Yes. Customers or clients can be guilty of sexual harassment. Economic Harassment There are two main forms of sexual harassment Quid pro quo or economic harassment The first form is called economic harassment, or tangible employment action, which is a phrase that has evolved from the older term, quid pro quo, or this for that. Essentially, economic harassment is unlawful harassment that results in a tangible employment action to the victim. A tangible employment action involves monetary loss or significant changes in someone s workload or assignment should he or she refuse a sexual request. For example, being passed over for promotion or a raise, or being given the least desirable assignments all the time for refusing the sexual overtures of someone in authority over your job. Economic harassment focuses on the harm to the victim rather than the conduct of the harasser. Automatic liability In cases of economic harassment, the company is automatically liable if a supervisor takes tangible employment action against an employee. Tangible employment action must actually occur The company is automatically liable only if the threat of job detriment or promise of job benefit actually results in an employment action such as termination, promotion, demotion, or reassignment to a considerably different position. Hostile Work Environment The other main form of sexual harassment is hostile work environment. A hostile work environment can be either or both of the following: 4 of 7

5 Severe or pervasive conduct (or both) The definition of a hostile work environment covers severe or pervasive conduct or both. Intimidating, hostile, or offensive displays It also includes items displayed in the workplace that unreasonably interfere with job performance or create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment. A hostile environment includes: Sexually offensive photos, drawings, calendars, graffiti, or other objects Sexually offensive language, jokes, gestures, or comments Liability Automatic liability for supervisor s tangible employment action The company is automatically held liable for a supervisor s actions that create a hostile work environment and that result in a tangible employment action. If no tangible employment action, then the company might avoid liability If no tangible employment action is taken against an employee by a supervisor, however, we would probably not be held liable. Nevertheless, we would certainly be concerned and promptly deal with any inappropriate and unprofessional behavior on the part of a supervisor. We encourage you to report any situation in which you feel uncomfortable, even if no tangible action has been taken against you. Liability for actions of co-workers We may be liable for a harassment created by an employee s coworkers if we knew or should have known of the harassment and did not immediately address it. For example, if you complain to a supervisor about a co-worker s posting of a girlie or pinup calendar, we are effectively put on notice of the harassment and must immediately address and correct the situation. Liability for actions of customers, clients, and independent contractors We could also be held liable for sexual harassment of our employees by customers and clients if, again, we knew or should have known about the problem and did nothing to stop it. Both of these situations underline why it is important for you to report sexual harassment immediately, and why it is critical for us to act upon your complaints promptly and effectively. Who s Affected? Everyone in an organization is affected by incidents of sexual harassment, including those who commit the harassment, such as: Employees at any level can commit sexual harassment. Therefore, unlawful sexual harassment can travel up, down, and sideways in the organization. Clients or customers can also commit sexual harassment against our employees. Members of the same sex Although acts of sexual harassment must be grounded in discrimination that is based on sex, the sex of the offender and victim is not controlling. Therefore, males can commit sexual harassment against other males, and females can commit sexual harassment against other females. The key is not sexual orientation, but that the act is sexual in nature. Ordinary socializing in the workplace, such as male- 5 of 7

6 on-male horseplay or inter-sexual flirtation, however, will generally not support a finding of same-sex harassment. Instead, the harassment must be of a severely hostile or abusive nature. A person may experience sexual harassment as: Direct or an intended targets. For example, somebody who is constantly subjected to a coworker s sexual advances is a direct target and, therefore, a victim of these unlawful acts. Bystanders and witnesses Some courts have held that bystanders, or mere witnesses to unlawful acts of sexual harassment, may also be victims. As a result, if you witness acts of sexual harassment that are directed toward a co-worker, you may also be considered to be affected by the harassment and find protection under the law. Prevention: What We Can Do Now let s talk about prevention. In order to create respectful and dignified school and workplaces, both staff and you have responsibilities. Schools and workplaces need to maintain and enforce effective policies that establish a complaint procedure and outlines penalties for harassers. Our school policy is listed oh the school web site at PSSC Sexual Harassment Policy on pp or as an attachment to this assignment. We work to create, communicate, and enforce a policy that: Provides a clear statement of our position against sexual harassment Uniformly and sensitively communicates our position against sexual harassment so that everyone understands what is and is not acceptable school or workplace behavior. Promotes compliance and prevention by defining responsibilities Promotes compliance and prevention by defining the responsibilities of teachers, staff, supervisors, students, and employees in preventing sexual harassment and in responding quickly and thoroughly to any complaints. Protects your rights and fosters respect for all Protects your rights by fostering and maintaining a respectful and dignified and work environment by preserving confidentiality whenever possible and by communicating and enforcing a policy of no retaliation against anyone who reports sexual harassment. Prevention: What You Can Do You can help prevent sexual harassment in our school and your workplace, too. Know and comply with school/workplace policy You should know and comply with our school and your workplace policies. Be sure to take the time to read them. Ask your teacher, supervisor, or an HR representative if you have any questions about your responsibilities under any policy. Address incidents of sexual harassment immediately More specifically, it s very important to address incidents of sexual harassment immediately. Report any incident of harassment 6 of 7

7 that reasonably offends you, whether you are the intended target or not. If you can, respond directly to harassers, letting them clearly know that their behavior bothers you. If you re too uncomfortable to address them directly for example, if the harasser is your teacher or supervisor then report the incident to your principal, your supervisor s manager, or a human resources representative. Record the time, place, and details of the incident, including any co-workers who might have observed the incident. Support victims You can also help by being as supportive as you can of fellow students and co-workers. Encourage them to report the initial incident according to company policy and support them throughout the process until it is resolved to everyone s satisfaction. Cooperate with investigations Cooperate with investigations. Provide any information you have about an incident of sexual harassment and do your part to make the investigation run smoothly and move as quickly as possible toward a resolution of the problem. Key Points to Remember These are the main points you should take away from this training session. Sexual harassment is prohibited by law and company policy It involves more than physical conduct; it can also be verbal or visual Sexual harassment harms us all You have the power to help prevent it 7 of 7

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